Desserts

175

Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Buttercream

I woke up a few mornings ago and walked down to the little playground down the street from my house with every intention of sitting in the sun for a few minutes with my over-microwaved mug of coffee and the Times travel section- because now I can actually read for pleasure again whaaat? But the moment I sat down, the sky got dark and still. I knew the rain was coming and I should pack up, but I just stayed put, breathing in that summer pre-storm smell. Memorizing the grayish blue tint of everything around me.

I’m happy. For the first time in long time, I catch myself smiling about nothing. This sounds silly, I know. Many people probably have no trouble finding things to smile about on a regular basis. But I’ve been like this for a while. I don’t dwell on the good stuff as much as I gulp it down in the moment. And then I’m left with nothing but emptiness until the next good thing reveals itself. I was a fairly serious little kid, always wanting to be a grownup so I could have important things to think about. At family gatherings the real adults would laugh at me as I sat in the corner reading or looking around while the other kids screamed and ran around in the dirt. I wanted to be grown so badly; surely then no one would think my solemnity was so funny. But since I’ve actually “become” one, (air quotes because let’s be real I don’t pay for my health insurance I’m not an adult yet am I?) I’m beginning to understand why they were so serious, and why they found my behavior so funny. Being older is hard. There aren’t a lot of things to smile about. If I’ve discovered that anything is constant over the last few years, it’s that life is bursts of joy and misery. Peaks and valleys and all that. In the past I’ve rarely savored the good moments, and sometimes find myself wallowing in the not-so-good. And then I get stuck in waiting for something better. I was always waiting. And all that waiting only made me more serious. But I don’t need to live that way anymore. I never needed to, really. But there were circumstances outside of my control encouraging that life. The constant waiting. The looking down instead of up. There’s enough horror in this world without dwelling on the mean reds of my own making.

It is easier, of course, to find dignity in one’s solitude. Loneliness is solitude with a problem. Can blue solve that problem, or can it at least keep me company within in? –No, not exactly. It cannot love me that way; it has no arms. But sometimes I do feel its presence to be a sort of wink– ‘Here you are again,’ it says, ‘and so am I.’           -Maggie Nelson, Bluets

I’ve treated a few posts here in the past as little shoutouts to the good and allusions to the bad going on in my life. This is a good one. I haven’t wanted to sit and smile in a while. Some of those smiles are being shared nationwide and some are just for me. Some are for things not quite fit to talk about here and some are for raspberry buttercream, which you’ll learn about very soon.

But there are things to smile about.

Cake (from the Magnolia Bakery)

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water

Preheat convection oven to 375 degrees F. Butter two 8 or 9-inch cake pans. Place a circle of parchment paper on the bottom of each pan, butter the paper, then dust with flour. Whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs, milk, oil and vanilla in a separate bowl. Add egg mixture into the sugar-flour mixture and whisk until combined. Whisk in boiling water just until combined (the batter will be watery.) 3. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Raspberry Frosting (adapted from My Name is Yeh)

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam + extra for cake assembly

Whip the first four ingredients together until light and fluffy with an electric mixer, then add the jam.

Assembly

seedless raspberry jam
sprinkles

Cool cake layers completely (I like to refrigerate mine wrapped in plastic for at least a few hours if not overnight. This prevents the cake from getting really crumbly when you’re frosting it.) If you want to be a real professional, level off the cake domes using a serrated knife. Line a cake plate with three thin pieces of parchment or waxed paper to catch any frosting drips. Place the bottom cake layer on the plate. Dollop a good amount of frosting on top of the bottom layer and spread it out, then add a thick layer of raspberry jam. Place the second layer of cake on top and press it down gently. Form your crumb coat by spreading a very thin layer of frosting all around the sides and top of the cake with an offset spatula- thin enough so you can still see the cake underneath. Put it back in the fridge for another hour, then frost up the rest of this bad boy however your heart desires. Add sprinkles because sprinkles make everything better. If you want to be impressed and/or up your layer cake game, check this tutorial or this one. Feed this to all your friends because in my opinion pie is better but shhhhh.


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Breakfasts, Desserts

171

No-Bake Seedy Mocha Coconut Slice (V, GF)

First post back in my trusty Jersey kitchen! I’ve missed it so. The weirdly yellow speckled floors. The full-sized food processor. THE DISHWASHER. I can’t even describe how many times in the past few days I’ve started washing things by hand and then remembered I can just toss it in a thing that will clean the dishes for me!! No more waking up to a sink full of things I was too lazy to clean the night before. Truly a miracle.

As much as I love having certain things back, it sure is weird being in a real house again for the long haul. I realize like four times a day l have yet to turn off all my alarms telling me about work shifts at the museum and production meetings at the theatre. I can’t remember where I left my bag or shoes or iPod or sunglasses because I can’t just throw them into the same corner of my apartment every time I come home anymore (my roommates totally loved me, can you tell?) I’m taking a big risk if I leave my computer plugged in unattended because a certain member of the household likes to sharpen his fangs on electrical cords when no one is watching. On the other hand, it’s a dream come true to be able to jump in the car and be five minutes away from Whole Foods. It’s actually going to become a problem soon. I like grocery shopping way too much, don’t judge meeee. I’m also growing quite fond of this whole waking up to a pot of coffee already brewed thing. And having a big tv instead of my tiny laptop to re-watch all of Mad Men explore important documentary films. I’ll start my summer job soon enough, but until then I’ve really been getting into having nothing to do. And I’ll continue being a big fan for maybe another week, then I’ll start to go insane and probably begin crafting again. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Let’s talk about food. Specifically this recipe. It originated from a recipe by my all-time favorite vegan blogger Ashlae of Oh, Ladycakes. While rummaging in the fridge for dates, I found a container of prunes. And because I’ve been trying real hard to broaden my food-horizons lately I ate one. I was not a fan. Que sera, sera. However, the texture was very promising, as in it resembled a perfectly moist date. Lo and behold, pruney date crust is slammin’! And while I’m not too fond of them on their own, when blended with super sweet dates and nuts and coffee and chocolate, they add a whole new world of flavor. So don’t knock it til you try it, trust me! The greatest thing about this treat is that it’s totally substantial enough to be breakfast, but decadent enough to have for dessert (with a healthy dollop of whipped cream, duh.) PS- if you have a nut allergy, omit the almonds and almond milk; bump up the oats to 1 1/4 cup, the pepitas to 1/4 cup, and swap the almond milk for the water your dates/prunes have been soaking in! Also thx to Emily for being my hand model extraordinaire~

Slice (adapted from Ashlae Warner, via eHow)

1 cup raw almonds
3 tablespoons pepitas
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon coffee grounds
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
heavy pinch vanilla sea salt (or just normal, I won’t tell)
12 deglet noor dates
3 prunes
2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
1/4 cup almond milk (or date water)
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (optional)

3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons maple syrup

shredded coconut, chopped almonds, cocoa nibs, crystalized ginger, dried chopped fruit, etc. (for topping)

Make the crust: Place the dates and prunes in a bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside for at least ten minutes. Drain, reserving the water to replace almond milk in this recipe (or for adding further deliciousness to a smoothie!) Blend the almonds, pepitas, coconut, oats, coffee, cocoa powder, and salt in a food processor until it turns into a fairly fine meal. Add the dates, prunes, cocoa nibs, and extract (if using) and blend until combined. Add the almond milk or date water and pulse until the mixture forms large crumbs. Press the mixture into an 8 or 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom (or if you’re me and just moved all your kitchen equipment from one home to another, use whatever you have hanging around that vaguely resembles said tart pan; in this case, a spring form pan. See, they’re not just for cheesecakes!) and put it in the freezer to make it bake.

Make the topping: Whisk together the coconut oil and cocoa powder until smooth, it will resemble melted chocolate. Add the maple syrup and whisk well. (Spoiler alert: this is the BEST and easiest vegan chocolate frosting if you’re ever in a pinch.)

Put it all together: Take the crust out of the freezer. Working quickly, spread the topping over the crust with an offset spatula and sprinkle with additional desired toppings! Good luck getting this to last over two days, but Ashlae assures us it will keep in the freezer for up to 6 weeks!


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Desserts

166

Honey Hazelnut Brownies (GF)

 

If I were one of the seven deadly sins, I’d be gluttony. Growing up, I was 100% never the kid who got distracted by TV or a gameboy or playing outside during dinnertime. I’ve always been all about the food. Still am, if you didn’t already get that. It doesn’t really matter what the food is. Be it a plate of raw-vegan-paleo-something or a sleeve of Thin Mints, I really don’t care. I will want to finish whatever I can find. That’s why I make an effort to surround myself with good food. It doesn’t have to be spinach, but it does have to have some kind of body/mind health benefit. So that’s a way of saying that while I do eat a great many brownies, they aren’t filled with milk chocolate (pffff) or 3 cups of bleached sugar or anything like that.

I’m sure there are others like me out there- those who love to eat all the things, but still care about what they put inside themselves. That’s why I’m sharing (another) recipe for good-for-you brownies. It’s similar, but just different enough to be a completely unique brownie experience. My favorite part of this recipe was hands-down the coconut oil. It made the brownies smell so good. Even after they’d cooled and were hanging out in the fridge- spoiler alert, when these bad boys are cold, they’re even better. But maybe that’s just me. This was also the first time I’ve sweetened brownies with honey and I must say, it’s my new favorite thing. There’s something about using honey instead of regular sugar in a dessert that makes it more interesting. You know the thing you’re eating is sweet, but it’s not a usual kind of sweet. You must mull over the complexities of your dessert by having another brownie. And then another. It’s basically homework. I may or may not have crumbled them over several bowls of pistachio gelato during my analysis of honey vs sugar dessert. It was very important work.

Speaking of overindulgence, Heinz and Kraft are merging to form one giant superfood company (but not this kind of superfood. More like this kind.) What does this mean? That Kraft singles will now come with ketchup packets so we can finally always be ready to make a proper grilled cheese??! One can only hope..

Brownies

1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp cocoa nibs
1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk the wet ingredients until smooth and set aside. Whisk together the almond flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt, then add to the wet ingredients and combine. Fold in the chopped chocolate, cocoa nibs, and hazelnuts. Bake 20-25 minutes.

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Desserts

164

Mocha Whiskey Mousse Pie for
Pi[e] Day 2015 (aka the Pi Day of the Century)

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

Happy Pi Day!! Honestly, this is probably my favorite of the food themed holidays. It’s a close race between pies and chocolate but I think pie may have a little edge. This year is extra special because it’s 2015, meaning the date is 3/14/15, and π = 3.1415 (the next few digits are 926, so I could be extra insane and make sure I’m eating a bite of pie at exactly 9:26 AM and PM, but we’ll see.) Since it’s so important that pie be consumed on this high holy day, I’ve been thinking about what exactly I’d be making for quite a while. As much as I wish it were summer, so I could make a really good fruit pie with all the fresh peaches + berries, we can’t always get what we want. So I settled (and by settled, I mean I was perfectly happy to select) chocolate and cherry preserves. As long as these decadent things exist, life will be pretty good. So grab a fork and cup of coffee and dig in! Also read this article real quick.

Check my pi day post from last year for more treats, but also definitely pay attention to what the rest of the internet food world created:

last year’s Mini Cherry-Blueberry Pies (Ashlae makes a lot of pie, she’s a goddess)

Food52 has all the suggestions for savory as well as sweet pies

This Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie from Smitten Kitchen is obviously breakfast, yes?

Buzzfeed has a lot of suggestions, although I’m wary of a pie milkshake..

NPR has featured recipes in addition to a math-y video with v dramatic music (it’s currently playing as I type and it’s making everything feel like a fight sequence in an action movie.) Also I’m not sure what’s going on with their “pizza pie”, but it’s not what I was expecting

Just reading the words Blackberry Balsamic Pie with Sea Salt Walnut Crumble made my day, so you bet I took note of this one for the summer (actually, I “pinned” it..do you hate me?)

I actually originally intended to make a Crack Pie today, but that dream got away from me, so just salivate over the recipe!

This project is called 31 Days of Pie, and while it did not overlap with pi day, I think you understand why it’s on this list

If you’re in New York today, there are some pie shops celebrating with discounts and specials! Four & Twenty Blackbirds is also running a 3 slices for $14 deal~

Also if you want to eat pie for all the meals today, look at these adorable little savory hand pies, this Guinness Beef Pot Pie, and this whole list..but especially that artichoke, kale, and ricotta pie yes yes yes

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch Waitress and eat the following recipe straight out of the pie pan!

Pie (inspired by Oh, Ladycakes)

2 cups pretzels
5 cinnamon graham crackers
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6-8 tablespoons solid coconut oil

1 batch chocolate mousse
2 tablespoons whiskey
2 tablespoons espresso

1/4 cup cherry preserves (or berries, if you can find good ones this time o’year!)
1-2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
chopped walnuts and cashews
shredded coconut
1 batch coconut whipped cream

For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a removable bottom tart pan (I use canola spray) Combine pretzels, graham crackers, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor and grind until they reach flour-like crumbs. Add the coconut oil and pulse until crust resembles wet sand. Press into tart pan with your fingers, then use the bottom of a measuring cup to really press it all in. Bake 7-10 minutes, checking for the last three minutes to make sure it’s not burning. Remove from oven and set on a baking sheet (in case anyone happens to move your pie, we won’t have no surprises re: removable bottom pan/pie all over floor/etc) to cool.

For the filling: Make the mousse according to these directions, swapping out 4 tablespoons of almond milk with the espresso and whiskey. Or you can use the normal recipe, live your life as you please. Pour mousse into pie crust and refrigerate.

For the topping: Spoon the preserves over the chocolate layer of the pie. Sprinkle one tablespoon of cocoa nibs over the preserves. If you’re good at planning ahead, make a batch of coconut whipped cream, adding a tablespoon or two of whiskey, because yolo and such (I am on spring break after all..) and spread a thick layer over the chocolate. Stud the top with more cocoa nibs, chopped nuts, and coconut. Ready your forks and toast to pi day!

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Drinks

157

Clementine Hot Chocolate (GF)

There’s a real-feel temperature of -9 today in Northampton, and it’s pretty much been like this for a while, which obviously means I have a strong(er than usual) craving for hot chocolate on a regular basis. In the summer months, that craving turns into chocolate ice cream, but for right now, I’m sticking with the cocoa. I’ve started making up different recipes, normal and dairy-free; with and without funky additional flavors, to try to find my favorite. The contenders started out rich and heavy: tahini, Nutella, peanut butter, almond butter, coconut cream. While each pot of these spread-based cocoas came out unbelievably decadent, I really couldn’t handle more than half a mug’s worth before having to take a rest. And coming back to room temperature chocolate is not the dream. So I thought, how about extracts? They kick coffee up a notch for sure. And indeed, peppermint hot chocolate was seasonally appropriate in December, and anise cocoa went really well with sugar cookies, but both fell a little flat in terms of a “Go To Recipe”, y’know? Then I started remembering a million years ago, when I used to find those amazing chocolate oranges in my house’s chocolate drawer- yes, we have one of those, no joke. (Also I had no idea these chocolates were still being made until I found that link and am now struggling not to order all of them). The best thing about chocolate oranges was that both flavors complimented each other perfectly, neither canceling out the other. So I think at that moment, I knew orange was the route to take. But of course, I only had clementines in the house at that point and just couldn’t bring myself go to the grocery store to buy one orange, so I figured what the hell; orange, clementine; potato, potahto, and such.

Sometimes, the kitchen gods smile and and give you a hot chocolate recipe that is satisfying enough for dessert, light enough for a mid-morning snack; completely chocolatey, but still exciting and different. Definitely a recipe I will make for years to come. So, with the snow blowing around here for snowpocalypse2015 -the first act of which (last Tuesday) seemed to be a bit of a hoax in Northampton, while today’s blizzard feels much more eerie– I can’t think of a better time to make another cup for myself, pray the power doesn’t go out, and share this recipe. Feel free to make it 100% vegan (or 100% not) according your personal preference!

Hot Chocolate (serves 4)

2 cups 2% milk
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tbsp brown sugar
zest of one clementine (or orange)
4 tbsp dark chocolate cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
water

In a medium saucepan, heat both milks over medium heat. While milk is heating, whisk together all other ingredients in a small bowl. Add tablespoons of water one at time to chocolate mixture until smooth. Add chocolate to milk and heat!

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Desserts, Outside Eats

156

Chocolate Truffles (GF)

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend a truffle making workshop at Roni-Sue’s Chocolates (thanks, Katie!!) where I learned all about the art of fancy chocolate making. Over homemade hot cocoa we learned all about owner Rhonda Kave’s 25-year-long hobby turned successful business. In addition to the truffles we sampled, Rhonda also gave us a little lesson about the different parts of the cocoa pod (she gets hers from Belize, where she spends a lot of time with cocoa farmers). We rubbed the skin off a roasted cocoa bean (think espresso bean, but richer), poked at cocoa nibs, and those of us who were brave enough to sample unsweetened chocolate munched a little bit- not a bite for the Hershey’s Milk-minded, let me tell you. We then got to take over the kitchen and learn to make our own chocolate ganache, which eventually became truffles! This was a really fantastic experience.  It was clear that Rhonda enjoyed her previous career as a professional women’s activist, but her dream was always to work in chocolate. Now, she gets to incorporate chocolate with social activism and community engagement, and it doesn’t seem like she’ll stop anytime soon. She’s a cool lady, read more about Rhonda here.

I rarely find myself in the presence of people who truly enjoy what they do. It gave me quite a bit of hope. If you’ve been reading any of my recent posts, you’ve noticed my not-so-subtle hints about having literally no concrete post-grad plans. But it’s okay. Because I know what I like to do. And no, it’s not watching Netflix- though I’m sure that was your first guess, so good one! I really like making and styling food. Obviously, I’d love to figure out a way to make this blog a career, but the stars would have to align to make that happen. Or maybe I could run into a Saveur editor and convince them to feature me in the Food Blog Awards. But I dream. In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to the clean slate that is coming in May. And yes, I am going to continue to refer to this in a positive way probably until three days before graduation. Then we’ll let the panic attacks roll in. But maybe I’ll get lucky like Rhonda and find a way to do what I love. Here’s hoping!

Among the truffles we sampled: Raspberry (flavored with freeze-dried raspberry powder); Strawberry-Rhubarb with Marzipan and Apricot kernel; Eggnog Ganache with Rum in a White Chocolate Shell. Needless to say it was quite the afternoon. I’m featuring Roni-Sue’s basic truffle recipe today, but maybe I’ll experiment a little in the future and share that here as well! I feel like a Campari and orange truffle could be very interesting, don’t you?

Truffles (yield: approx 50 pcs)

7 oz dark chocolate (preferably 70%) – you can use chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
2 pinches pink salt (or sea salt)
1 1/4 c heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter, softened (optional- it just adds richness!)

Topping options:
Flaky sea salt
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Cocoa nibs
Crushed nuts
Crushed candy canes
Crushed gingersnaps
Chili powder
Ground cinnamon

Place chocolate, salt, and butter (if using) in a heat-safe bowl. Bring cream to boil in a small saucepan over medium high heat, then pour over chocolate. Let sit for about a minute, then whisk until smooth. Refrigerate uncovered until firm, about 1 hour. Spoon 2 level teaspoons-full of the chocolate mixture onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper, then return to refrigerator 15 minutes. With your hands, roll the mounds into balls, then roll or sprinkle with desired toppings! Chill until set, about half an hour.

 

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Desserts

154

Chocolate Peppermint Thins

Happy 2015! I can’t believe it’s January again. This was an incredibly fast year. I think this is mostly because at school the days and weeks seem to blend together to the point where a new unit of time is created. I have no idea what I ate for dinner two days before, let alone who I was with or what we spoke about or which paper I worked on that night. It’s just “school-time”. Classes seem long, but semesters end unbelievably quickly, leaving me feeling bewildered about whether I’ve actually done anything concrete in the previous months. Yet, time seems smooth there. It’s very different when I come back home. Every corner, cafe, and movie theatre presents itself not in its current place in time and space, but where it existed a year ago. And the year before that. And the year before that. Flashes of conversations come back so vividly it’s really quite frightening. Everything I do (brown garlic for my favorite dinner, walk down the street hoping for snow, drink a gin and tonic) I’ve done before. And I can’t decide if it was better then or now.

I’ve always been that person who needs to know exactly what is coming. I make to-do lists. I plan for things. I write blog posts talking about what I’ve “learned” from the careful plans I’ve made. I very easily could continue along that carefully laid out path this year, but I didn’t apply to grad school, as I originally considered. It’s not because I’m lazy, I swear! I think I really just need to take a break from planning for everything. Embrace the come-what-may, as it were. Maybe it’ll work out terribly and I’ll go right back to planning everything out, and that’s okay. But in the meantime, I will spend the afternoon making cookies and not working on costume sketches like I originally planned, and everything will be fine. In fact, I’ll enjoy it!

Cookies (from the New York Times)

1 c + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
½ tsp kosher salt
1 egg
1 tsp peppermint extract (or if you’re me and went looking for the #1 holiday flavoring on Dec. 23, only to find the rest of the world bought every single bottle of peppermint extract in the tri-state area, peppermint flavor works too)
1 ½ c all-purpose flour
¾ c unsweetened cocoa powder

Chocolate Coating

About 16 oz bittersweet chocolate
¼ – ½ tsp peppermint extract
¼ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp coconut oil
8 to 12 candy canes
¼ – ½ c cocoa nibs

Cream sugar and butter together in a mixer until fluffy, at least 3 minutes. Add salt, egg, peppermint extract and 1 tablespoon water, and mix until smooth. Mix flour and cocoa together, then add to the batter and mix until combined. The dough will be very stiff (and in my opinion it was easier to work with after being left in the fridge for a day to get even stiffer). Heat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon out rounded tablespoons of dough and roll into balls. Place 3 inches apart on baking sheet. Use the bottom of a glass to flatten each ball into 1/8-inch thick rounds. Dust the bottom of the glass with cocoa powder every three cookies or so (which may give the impression that your cookies have burned when they come out of the oven, but this is a trick! don’t buy into it! they’re just fine!) Bake about 15 minutes until the cookies are firm and beginning to crisp. Remove from cookie sheets and let cool on wire racks. Don’t throw away the parchment paper.

When the cookies have cooled completely (several hours or overnight), make the coating. Place the candy canes in a thick freezer bag and use a rolling pin to get out all aggression pulverize them into a mixture of candy-cane dust and little red-and-white bits. Set aside in a cool place. Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over barely simmering water. When smooth, stir in ¼ teaspoon of each extract and the coconut oil. Taste and add more peppermint extract if needed. Keep chocolate warm over the hot water.

The Times recipe recommends fully submerging each cookie one at a time in the chocolate, but when I realized I had 5 dozen cookies and a solid seven minutes yielded three finished cookies, I changed the plan. Place the cookies (still on wire racks) on top of the parchment-covered baking trays. Situate near the warm chocolate. Working one line of cookies at a time, drop tablespoonfuls of chocolate onto the cookies and then smooth flat with an offset spatula. Repeat. After about 15 minutes, when the chocolate has mostly set, sprinkle cookies with candy cane bits and cocoa nibs. Store in the fridge in airtight containers, in layers separated by parchment paper. Try to only eat four at a time.

 

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Musing

happy national chocolate day!

I’m starting this post at 11:56 pm, so by my watch there’s still four minutes left to this glorious holiday! However, in my world, every day is chocolate day, and who says it can’t go on for more than 24 hours?! While I don’t have a new post to share (I really should make calendar appointments for all these important food holidays..) I am prepared to remind everyone about some really truly incredible desserts featuring -in my opinion- the very best food in the world. As as I look for good recipes to remind you of, I’m realizing that pretty much everything I bake involves chocolate. So I’m sticking with the REALLY good ones for this post. The ones that are at least 83% chocolatey, and 100% decadent. And speaking of chocolate, will someone please make me this for my birthday next week? Anyway, happy holiday!

 

No-Added-Sugar Brownies are light and fluffy and any excuse to eat an entire tray of brownies without ending up crying in fetal position is the dream

You haven’t had vegan dessert until you’ve had a slice of No-Bake Chocolate Cherry Tart

Ditto this Avocado Chocolate Pudding. It was actually so rich and chocolatey I had to approach it several times throughout the day to finish my cup..

It looks so simple, but I can assure you David Lebowitz knows his stuff when it comes to Chocolate Almond Cake

And speaking of cake, Emily reminded us we don’t have to pick dessert or drinks, because Chocolate Stout Cake exists. You’re welcome, earth

Cake may be the prettiest in pictures, but you will never go wrong with several batches of Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. They also fit in purses much more easily than any other dessert on this list.

Saltine Toffee. Another purse snack- and this one has that great salty + chocolate thing happening. Science, guys.

One more time for the cheap seats in the back: Chocolate Coconut Pound Cake

And just in case you’re looking for a liquified version: ABC Smoothie and Almond Hot Chocolate should do the trick! 

Hungry yet? I urge you to follow my lead and keep emergency chocolate chips on your bedside table. Happy baking! (Ps- if this post isn’t enough for you, try this instead!)

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Desserts

140

No-Bake Chocolate Cherry Tart (V, GF)

Well, I’ve been back at school for a few weeks now and it’s finally started to feel real. I think it’s living in a new space that’s making everything feel like a blur. I’m in less of a school-with-a-side-of-life space and in more of an I-live-here-but-oh-also-homework world. I’m not sure how to feel about it. Like, if I can’t sleep and I want to make brownies at one in the morning I totally can, but I do still have to finish the readings for class on Tuesday. It’s even weirder to think about the fact that a year from now I probably won’t be here at all. I’m quickly realizing that once you say you’re a senior in college a short play is presented:

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: So you’re a senior?

Me: Yes.

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: Wow, that’s so exciting!

Me: It is, but y-

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: What’re you going to do when you graduate?

Me: Well, I-

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: Grad school?

Me: Um, at this point-

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: Oh! Are you like, looking for places where you can work that involve the thing you majored?

Me: I’m not quite-

Acquaintance/Professor/Friend: Well, I’m sure you’ll figure it out!

Every. Single. Time. If it hadn’t happened to me more than thrice in one week with almost the exact same conversation I wouldn’t feel so strongly about writing this down, but it has. It’s almost as though everyone who’s older/younger than college seniors has banded together to rehearse this. I would be very impressed that mankind has finally found something to agree on if it weren’t so freaking terrifying. After this summer I’ve realized I have NO IDEA what I want to do when I graduate, other than not be in school for a while. I wonder where I’ll be, where my friends will be. Maybe I’ll be living in some cool new city and working at a fun job? Relatively unlikely. But we’ll see. I know the places I’d like to see and the people I’d like to spend time with, but in terms of what I’ll be *doing*? No idea. In the meantime I’ll be eating a lot of chocolate.

Tart (from Oh, Ladycakes with a few adjustments)

Crust

1 c rolled oats

1 c raw almonds

Pinch sea salt

6 medjool dates, pitted

2-3 tbsp non-dairy milk (I used light coconut milk)

Filling

1/2 c unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder

1/4 c coconut oil, melted

1/4 c maple syrup

2 c cherries, pitted and quartered

Line the bottom of an 8-9″ tart pan with parchment paper and spray with oil. In a food processor fitted blend the oats, almonds, and salt into a fine meal. Add the dates and blend just until combined. Add two tbsp of the milk and blend until the dough is crumbly but sticks together when pressed between your fingers. If it doesn’t seem to be as moist as it could be add the third tbsp (I only used two because I was nervous about the crust getting too tough but alas, it was still extremely crumbly. Oh well, it still tasted good!) Once you’ve reached the desired consistency, press dough into the prepared tart pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the cocoa powder and one tbsp of the coconut oil. Stir relatively smooth then add the syrup. Then whisk in remaining coconut oil and pour into the crust. Top with the cherries, then transfer to the refrigerator for at least an hour. I don’t think this needs anything to accompany it except maybe a cup of tea or glass of sparkling wine!

 

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Desserts

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Chocolate Avocado Pudding (V, GF)

I’m back at Smith for my senior year (!!!!), currently sitting in my apartment listening to the fan whir. It’s hot. Really, hot. Too hot for New England in September. And obviously this living situation does not include air conditioning. But it’s okay, because I’m not in my old prison cell box dorm room. I’m in my very own living room! It’s so exciting not to have to be confined to a dorm. I’ve already christened my oven with chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and I didn’t poison anyone, so I think I’ve got this covered. It feels like real life. Kinda. I do still have to go to class and do homework. That part isn’t so great. But I think this will be a good year in terms of eating, and that’s better than nothing. Anyway, I’ve finally found a spare moment to sit down with my computer and blog, so blog I shall! In all honesty, I did make this recipe at home in Jersey with my full-sized food processor and a dishwasher. And the next few posts will likely be other things I made at home before leaving as well. However, I can assure you, there will be a great many posts from my new digs. Just wait!

(Also in case anyone was wondering sometimes in Senior Capstone classes the professor tells you your homework is to bring in cookies. So that’s probably good luck, right?)

Pudding (adapted from A Beautiful Mess; makes 3-6 servings, depending on how hungry you are)

2 ripe avocados

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or any non dairy milk you like)

3 tbsp honey/agave/sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the milk and sweetener in a pot over low heat, melting together until combined. Remove from heat and let cool. Skin and pit the avocados, then place in a food processor with the cocoa powder. Blend until smooth. Add the milk mixture and blend until REALLY smooth. Spoon into serving cups and chill until you’re ready to eat! I recommend topping with coconut whipped cream and fresh berries!

 

 

 

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